PROTECTING Our Escarpment
PitSense is a community of people organized to respond to proposals for further increases in the number of aggregate operations in Caledon.
We are opposed to the continuing 'Domino Effect' growth of open pit mines and quarries in the agricultural and rural residential areas of the Niagara Escarpment and UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve.
Legislation plays a major role in determining the nature of our culture and society. Bad laws lead to bad outcomes. Our political representatives are subject to pressures and influences from many directions. We must inform ourselves, and then act, in order that we also have a say in the laws that determine our fate.

We need your help in order to influence our political representatives to rethink the current approaches and prevent further damage to our beautiful Niagara Escarpment.

Whether you think you can or whether you think you can't, you're right.
                                   ... Henry Ford

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from MINUTES of Town of Caledon Council Meeting - December 13, 2011 ...

Moved bv R Whitehead Seconded bv N deBoer :

Whereas there is an application by Brock Aggregates for an amendment to their Aggregate Resources Act site plan on the Tottenham Pit; and
Whereas the Ministry of Natural Resources acknowledges that this Aggregate Resources Act site plan amendment is to be considered major and significant in the changes to the existing extraction footprint both above and below the water table almost tripling the size of the exposed water surface; and
Whereas the amount of the extraction will amount to over 4000 000 tonnes (500 000 tonnes per year) for 7 to 9 years; and
Whereas there are strong indications that the extraction to date being a much smaller operation than that which is proposed has interfered with the water table damaged the natural hydrology and interfered with private wells; and
Whereas all of the properties in the area depend on private wells and there is no alternative municipal water service available; and
Whereas the applicant is proposing to continue to engage in extensive drag lining and crushing on site both operations representing heightened environmental noise and dust concerns; and
Whereas there doesn't seem to be any financial guarantee that all conditions and requirements of the site plan or the licence will be met throughout the duration of the licence the operation and time of decommissioning; and
Whereas the previous operations did not live up to their requirements and there was no apparent action taken by the Ministr; and
Whereas the Town and its citizens were assured at the time of the last amendment in 2000 that this would end the pit s useful life and that the pit would then be decommissioned and rehabilitated; and
Whereas a pit operation of this size and duration is likely to have a negative effect on real estate values in this estate residential area; and
Whereas the Pit has remained inactive for many years and has not been rehabilitated as promised and
Whereas the pit is contained within the Palgrave Estate Residential Area as identified within The Official Plan of Caledon and that of the Region of Peel and this use is not compatible with a residential area of this type which relies totally on private wells.
Now therefore be it resolved that the Minister is requested to deny the application for an amendment to the Aggregate Resources Act Site Plan and to order the Pit to be closed decommissioned and rehabilitated; and
Further if the Minister chooses not to take this advice and is considering the possibility of creating an opportunity for more extraction at this site that the topic be considered as a new application for a new licence and not as an amendment to the current Aggregate Resources Act Site Plan given the much larger scope
and potential negative effects of this major expansion to the environment, the hydrogeology, the private wells in the area, and the general well being of the area; and
Further that the new licence application process include full public involvement including adequate notice, public meetings, and full disclosure of all pertinent information; and
Further that the comments contained in the staff report DP 2011 064 be considered to be the minimum level of conditions that must apply to any new approval; and
Further that Caledon recommends that all of these conditions must be met before any operation is allowed to resume extraction; and
Further that Caledon be provided with regular reports that demonstrate that all conditions are being adhered to during the operation of the site; and
Further that Caledon be notified of any infractions and be advised of what remedial action is taking place; and
Further that Caledon is given the right, upon reasonable notice being given, to enter the site at any time to make its own observations regarding compliance; and
Further that a public liaison committee be established that requires the operator to meet with residents, staff from the Town, Region, applicable Conservation Authority, and MNR on a regular basis to address concerns; and
Further that should this matter proceed that a comprehensive rehabilitation plan be implemented in accordance with the Greenbelt Plan; and
Finally that given the information above that no final decision be made until all matters identified are considered and the community has been given a full and fair opportunity to act upon the matters; and
Further that a copy of Report DP 2011 064 and the Resolution be forwarded to Nottawasaga Conservation Authority, Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, the Ministry of Natural Resources, Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Sylvia Jones MPP, Town of New Tecumseth,
Region of Peel, County of Simcoe, and Township of King.

(emphasis added)
Links to our  - ARA Submission letterARA Review Submission Appendices  (note ~30mb PDF file) and news

Links to complete transcripts of submissions made by others can be found HERE
Standing Committee on General Government Review of the Aggregate Resources Act - May 2012

The Ontario Aggregate Resources Act governs development of aggregates like gravel, sand, clay, earth, and stone. Most of the aggregate resources produced in Ontario are used for construction, but they are also important for many other industries. In light of controversial proposals to expand existing pits by site plan amendments, license new pits in sensitive 'protected' areas, and create ever-larger quarries, such as the so-called "Mega Quarry" in Melancthon Township, the provincial Legislature is reviewing the Act.

PitSense was present as an observer at the review hearings and we made written submissions.

The purpose of the review is described as:

"Aggregate resources such as sand and gravel are vital to Ontario's economy - they are used to build roads, subway tunnels, hospitals and schools. The need for aggregates must also be balanced with the protection of other important resources, like water, green space and agricultural lands. While aggregates are plentiful in Ontario, recent studies show that rising demand due to population growth and land constraints could significantly deplete resources within 20 years. By seeking advice and gaining insight from key stakeholders, the committee will make recommendations to the government about how to strengthen the Act."

The Act, as it is currently structured, and in concert with the Provincial Policy Statement (PPS), mandates access to 'close to market' aggregate, at considerable expense to private property owners and municipalities, and makes it difficult for residents to stop pits and quarries. PitSense questions whether this is still good social, economic and environmental policy. It is also poorly integrated with other land-use statutes, such as the Clean Water Act and the various protected area Acts.

On Friday, May 4, the Standing Committee on General Government announced that it would be holding public hearings at Queen's Park in Toronto, beginning on Monday, May 7 (4 hours), Wednesday, May 9 (2 hours), Monday, May 14 (4 hours) and Wednesday, May 16 (2 hours). Those wishing to make an oral presentation were required to contact the Clerk of the Committee by 5:00 on Wednesday, May 9. The deadline for written submissions was 5:00 pm on Wednesday, May 16. The 'public' was effectively barred from the May 7 and May 9 hearings since a favored few (e.g. MNR, ECO, and aggregate industry representatives) had been given advance notice and were provided relatively generous time allocations on those dates. There were a total of more than 75 requests to appear submitted by the May 9 deadline. Only 24 of those were selected, and given only 10 minutes each to present their views. PitSense was among the majority who were not allowed to make an oral presentation.

The extremely short notice, quick deadlines, minimal time allocations, and the absence of rural hearings made it difficult for people in the communities most affected to be heard. The committee recommended that more hearings be held and travel to affected communities be permitted. The house leaders of the 3 parties have not accepted the committee's recommendation. They appear very reluctant to seriously engage the public in this review.

PitSense believes the citizens of Ontario deserve better.

PROVINCIAL POLICY STATEMENT 2014 - effective April 30, 2014
PitSense ACTION ALERT regarding PPS 2014  click HERE
Aggregate Resources Act (ARA) Review -  A report called the 'Blueprint for Change' has been published by the  Government of Ontario. The committee reviewing the ARA has sought input from stakeholders. PitSense has made a submission which primarily addresses the need for 'Full Cost Accounting' and avoidance of processing demolition debris in pits and quarries near aquifers and sensitive land uses. Town of Caledon staff is presenting report DP-2015-99 which is the draft for the Town’s recommendations with regard to the ‘Blueprint for Change’. There are a number of positive recommendations contained in the Town report. Among the recommendations is a crucial one that calls for a …
“… requirement for proponents to undertake a comprehensive study on the impacts of aggregate pits on neighbouring property values as part of the criteria for ARA license and Planning Act approval.”
We urge you to support this and other positive aspects of the Town’s comments by making your views known to the review committee by emailing ARAreview@ontario.caThe deadline for comments is December 15.
Our comments can be viewedHERE.
Caledon Council at work -- Our new Council has been busy through 2015 dealing with many things that affect the issues about which PitSense is most concerned. Four provincial plans that work together to manage growth and protect the natural environment are up for review. They are:
    1) the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH)
    2) the Niagara Escarpment Plan (NEP)
    3) the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan (ORMCP)
    4) the Greenbelt Plan (GBP)
Report DP-2015-041 is the Town of Caledon’s input for the development of amendments to these plans. Here is an excerpt:
“One of the key policy areas where an appropriate balance between provincial and local interests is lacking is Mineral Aggregate Resources. The policies of the PPS and the provisions of the Aggregate Resources Act give priority to the use and protection of aggregate resources but fail to adequately address the environmental, social and financial impacts of aggregate extraction which are felt at the community level.”
They also state:
“Municipalities should be given a greater role in the approval process for extraction operations.”[emphasis added]
Obviously these are sentiments with which we heartily agree. In fact we would like to see these statements followed up with expressions of support for a change to the ARA and the Municipal Act that would require or enable local municipalities to hold a referendum before large-scale aggregate extraction projects are approved so that residents can effectively influence whether these projects will go forward.